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Territory: 377,835 km²

Population: 126.8 million

Earthquake in Japan

On March 11th 2011, Japan was shaken by a major earthquake with a magnitude of 8.9 on the Richter scale, which triggered a tsunami in its aftermath. Waves of up to 38 meters (traveling at about 700 kilometers per hour) hit the coastline of northern Japan and caused major destructions. Around 15,800 people died and more than 452,000 were evacuated into shelters.

The tsunami also caused various nuclear disasters. The most important one being the level 7 nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which experienced a cooling system failure caused by the effects of the tsunami. This nuclear catastrophe brought incalculable risks to the relief-workers in certain areas.

While the Japanese government and the local authorities were well prepared to face a natural disaster, the scale of this multiple disaster surpassed all previous natural catastrophes, and the need for international aid was fundamental.

DEMIRA in Japan

In the aftermath of the disaster it became apparent that a medical team was not the essential need. DEMIRA relief worker and project manager Kjeld Duits had been living in Tokyo for over 30 years at the time of the disaster. Duits' knowledge of the Japanese culture and language allowed us to form our own conclusions on what kind of help we needed to supply.

After talking to victims and officials, Duits determined that the best way DEMIRA could help was by supporting the aid efforts of the local Japanese authorities and emergency services, by ensuring a constant supply and distribution of aid to the affected areas.

DEMIRA focused much of its relief efforts around the city of Rikuzentakata, in the heavily affected Iwate province. Our team provided water, blankets, clothes and food five times a week to 83 emergency shelters.

All aid supplies were purchased in Japan so that the specific cultural needs were catered for. The relief items were loaded onto trucks and transported to the north of the country.